The Corona del Sol High School wrestling team took on a challenging role at this year’s Flowing Wells Invitational: party crasher.
And the Aztecs used a late surge of 10.5 points in the championship round to accomplish the feat, squeezing past Sunnyside High School to win the prestigious tourney with 250 team points. Sunnyside settled for runner-up with 247.5 points.
The win was the first ever for Corona in the 51 years the Flowing Wells Invite has been providing high school coaches with one last look at where their programs stand before sectional competition and then the state tournament next month.
Forty-two teams, including seven from Texas and New Mexico, participated this year in what serves to wrap up the slate of major events during the regular season. The field is one of the largest ever.
But in recent years it has been a small group of some of the state’s top teams that have passed around the team trophy.
Sunnyside won the team title in 2011 and again in 2013, were runners-up twice, and third-place finishers a couple more times. The Blue Devils continue to be one of the dominant programs in the history of Arizona high school wrestling. They won an amazing 14 straight state titles before legendary coach Bobby DeBerry left the program in 2011, won another in 2013, and have continued to be an annual title contender.
The Blue Devils have been joined by a small cadre of Arizona teams that have dominated the Flowing Wells Invite in recent years. Mesa’s Mountain Ridge High has won the event twice since 2013 and finished runner-up twice more, Tucson’s Ironwood Ridge High School owns two titles since 2012 and finished runner-up in 2011, and Yuma’s Cibola High has been knocking on the door with a runner-up run in 2012 and two third-place finishes since 2011.
And now the Corona del Sol Aztecs have joined the exclusive club. But it wasn’t easy.
They had to overcome Sunnyside’s 7 1/2 point lead going into the championship round and used four individual championships by Zack Kvavle (108 lbs.), Jacob Garcia (140), Vince Dolce (154), and Brandon Konecny (162) to slip past the Blue Devils and secure the school’s only Flowing Wells team title. Dolce rolled through this year’s event, using three pins to cap off his senior season with a major tournament win.
Sunnyside placed a pair of champions this year, Roman Bravo-Young at 132 and David Salazar at 145. Both are returning champions.
Bravo-Young, a two-time state champion who has also won four Cadet National championships, has yet to lose this season after 28 matches and has amassed a total 107 wins during his three years at the prep level. He committed in October to wrestle for Penn State when he graduates next year.
One other returning champion was able to repeat. Chad Porter from Desert Vista High School in Phoenix won on a decision at 195 pounds.
A couple more individual champions were included in the Arizona hardware haul: David Castaneda from Kofa High in Yuma at 172 and Tarik Sutkovic from Thunderbird High in Phoenix.
Queen Creek High School came in third, thanks in part to championship victories by Xavier Rico at 115 and Anthony Saba at 184. Saba, who upped his season record to 30-2, was named Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament.